Quiet Revolutionary Daniel Ochoa’s Story
I tried to fool the gold standard of psychological assessment tests, as well as my teacher and classmates, into thinking I was an extrovert. I tried answering the questions as if I was some sort of charismatic showman character—a Muhammad Ali type—fully capable of fast-talking, colorful rhetoric.
My cheating attempt failed. I was unable to crack the standardized test. My true identity was exposed with test results returned to me, displaying a simple four-letter acronym that will forever cling to me like a scarlet letter: I-N-F-P. The dreaded “I” for introvert. You know you are a true introvert when you can’t even fake being an extrovert.
The classroom was split in half: introverts on the left, extroverts on the right. Our four-letter identities were handed out to us on a piece of paper accompanied with a list of careers. A librarian, writer, programmer, and housekeeper were some of the careers I was told I could have when I grew up. I felt as if a judge was handing me down a prison sentence. I wanted nothing more than to be sitting on the right side of that classroom with the future actors, lawyers, television broadcasters, and comedians. I wanted to be Fonzie instead of Richie Cunningham, Peter Venkman instead of Egon, and Han Solo instead of Luke Skywalker. Fonzie, Venkman, and Han are the outgoing, extroverted personalities that, it seemed, everyone looked up to and aspired to be. The shy and quiet kids were thought of as weird and quirky.
I would have to settle for Luke Skywalker. This would explain why I chose to be Luke when playing Star Wars during my childhood summer days. My best friend was always Han Solo. My little brother played Chewbacca, and we would not allow him to speak. He could only let out Chewbacca moans while we would pretend to translate each moan into words. The girl next door was cast as Princess Leia, sporting her mother’s brown earmuffs in the blazing summer heat.
Han, Chewy, and Leia would wander off together for the day to fight battles with the Galactic Empire. I, on the other hand, would depart alone into the suburban back alleys of Detroit to fight an imaginary Darth Vader and train with an imaginary Yoda. A green spray-painted teddy bear, bungee-corded to my grade-school backpack, would serve as Master Yoda.
My imaginary battles with Vader were epic. Any neighbors nearby, peaking out the back windows of their homes, would have witnessed a beautiful display of choreographed swordsmanship, featuring a boy and his yellow wiffle ball bat—all alone—gracefully and exuberantly swinging away into thin air.
I was a shy kid and always thought there was something wrong with me for choosing to be alone with my own thoughts and imagination. I would not accept my genetic predisposition of being the quiet one. Later in life, I learned to accept my introverted tendencies. I learned how to maximize my strengths and manage my weaknesses. I learned to take on passionate projects that pushed me to another level.
The wall between introversion and extroversion completely crumbles when you stand behind something that has purpose and meaning. We introverts tend to shine the most when talking about ideas and concepts held true to our hearts. I now accept my INFP result as a gift instead of some kind of disease.
Much like Luke Skywalker, we all have introverted Jedi powers that can be used for the greater good of mankind. Our powers include being highly idealistic, imaginative, and creative. We are strong-willed with an interest in helping people and humanity. We are driven by our own set of core values and remain laid-back unless these values are challenged or threatened. Our chameleon-like ability to adapt to people and situations allows us to establish deep-level connections with others. We are perpetual dreamers. The Force is strong with us.
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